In Search of Ragu - Roads & Kingdoms
Ragù Alla Bolognese #1
This version of ragù was published in 1982 by the Bologna chapter of the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, the closest thing to an authority in the matters of Italian cuisine.
300 grams beef (skirt or flank steak, preferably), coarsely ground or chopped
150 g pancetta, ground or minced
50 g carrot, minced
50 g celery, minced
50 g onion, minced
300 g tomato puree or peeled chopped tomatoes
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup whole milk
A little broth
Olive oil or butter
Salt and pepper
Heat a large earthenware or thick aluminum pan over medium heat.
Combine 3 tablespoons of oil or 50 g of butter and the chopped vegetables and cook until soft.
Add the ground beef and bacon and cook until browned, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Add the wine and stir gently until it is completely evaporated.
Add the fresh or canned tomato, cover, and simmer slowly for about 2 hours, adding broth when necessary.
Towards the end, add the milk to soften the acidity of the tomato.
Season with salt and pepper.
Makes about 6 servings.
Ragù alla Bolognese #2
This is not a definitive recipe, but rather a synthesis of the parts I loved most about the dozens of ragus I tasted in Emilia Romagna: the rich, gelatinous flavor of Massimo’s hand-torn super ragu, the whisper of tomato from Alessandro’s version (despite Massimo’s convincing protestations, the light sweetness and extra umami hit of tomato has a certain place in the sauce), and, of course, the pancetta from the grandmas of Savigno. Whatever you do, don’t serve this with spaghetti.
Try penne, rigatoni or pappardelle—something substantial enough to grab hold off the chunky ragu.
700 gr beef (oxtail, short rib, shank—something with fat, flavor, and preferably some marrow and gelatin), in one or two large pieces
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and minced
2 ribs celery, minced
1 medium onion, minced
450 gr ground pork (preferably from the shoulder)
½ cup minced pancetta
1 small can whole peeled tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), drained and crushed
1 cup dry red wine
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
Season the beef on all sides with salt and cook until deeply browned all over.
Remove from the pan.
If the pan is dry, add another splash of oil.
Sauté the carrot, celery, and onion until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the pork and pancetta and cook until lightly browned, then stir in the tomato and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
Return the beef to the pan, add the wine, stock, bay leaf and cover.
Turn the heat to low and simmer for two hours, until the beef is falling apart.
Shred the beef by hand or with two forks and fold back into the sauce, discarding any bones, excess fat, or cartilage.
If the sauce looks too dry, add a splash of broth or water to get the right consistency.
Serve over pasta with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Makes about 8 servings.